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Hitting the Road, Reaching Out, and Listening

May 3, 2010

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Welcome to the new FCC, where our face, and the faces of our staff, are showing up not only in DC but around the nation.

The FCC has been hitting the road - going beyond the DC Beltway - busily setting up events and meeting with consumers and community groups from Charlotte to Seattle. And the nation is taking notice. What surprises and pleases me is that every time we do an event outside of the DC area, the local public seems not just excited – but thankful. We've heard comments from folks like: "I can't believe you came all the way from Washington, DC to listen to us." "Whether we agree with your actions or not, we really appreciate the fact that you're hearing us and giving us the opportunity to comment in person and to answer our questions."

On April 27th and 28th, the FCC took its show on the road to Seattle. The issue at hand was the "open Internet." Zac Katz, Deputy Director of the Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis, opened the community forum on April 27th, explaining in laymen's terms just what "open Internet" is and what relevant issues are currently facing the FCC. The audience was diverse, reflecting the broad spectrum of Seattle's constituency.

The next morning the FCC hosted a workshop, "Approaches to Preserving the Open Internet," moderated by Paul de Sa, Chief of the FCC's Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski welcomed the audience by video, as did Senator Maria Cantwell and Congressman Jay Inslee. Using new media tools, the FCC was able to field live questions via the Web and Twitter.

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Why What the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Does Matters

April 30, 2010

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I wanted to write something to inform you of the impact the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC has on the lives of millions of first responders and their families. This is especially relevant now, because May 9-15, 2010 is National Law Enforcement Week.

I am the Outreach Coordinator for the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, and I want to share with you some professional and personal insights on the importance of effective, efficient public safety communications.

So many times we get caught up in the day-to-day “to-do” lists at work, and we forget to think about why we do what we do.  Why is the work of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC so important?  Well, I want to remind you from a public safety practitioner’s viewpoint, why.

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An Opportunity Knocks for Broadcasters

April 29, 2010

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The Commission's proposal to invite voluntary participation by TV broadcasters in a spectrum exchange is an opportunity knocking at their door. Broadcasters who are strapped for capital may find that answering that knock will be just what they need to kick their performance up to the next level.

Many — though not all — broadcasters find themselves today to be capital constrained as they contemplate taking advantage of the many potential benefits of the DTV transition. Whether they seek to develop new digital content, expand their new media platforms, or exploit new technologies that enable transmission of two HDTV streams on a 6 MHz channel, these broadcasters may find that they are "spectrum poor" — their scarcest resource is not spectrum but the capital needed to make those improvements. To help broadcasters be all that they can be, ways need to be found to help them get that capital.

A voluntary spectrum exchange offers these broadcasters a chance to get the needed capital infusion to make the investments that will position them to serve their communities even better going forward. The Commission has yet to work out the details of such a voluntary program, and broadcasters' input to that process will be key. But a broadcaster is likely to have the option of contributing half of a 6 MHz channel and sharing spectrum with another station that has done the same, or — Congress willing — to contribute a 6 MHz channel to an incentive auction in which the broadcaster will share in the auction proceeds. Either way, a broadcaster will be able to use the capital thus generated to jump to an improved business model in its continued broadcast activities, making it a stronger contender in the multimedia ecosystem that is evolving daily. Innovative spectrum-sharing arrangements should create new opportunities for minority and niche broadcasters to prosper

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Spectrum Task Force Poised to Drive the Implementation of the National Broadband Plan's Spectrum Agenda

April 26, 2010

By Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology, and Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

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Help Update the Spectrum Dashboard

by James Brown, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
April 22, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:120:height=100,width=71]]This week the FCC announced that a public forum will be held on May 12, 2010, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm to discuss potential enhancements to the Spectrum Dashboard in anticipation of release 2.0 of the Spectrum Dashboard in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Anyone interested in providing feedback on the list of potential enhancements below, suggesting additional potential enhancements, or participating at the forum by sharing your experiences with using the Spectrum Dashboard should contact me by April 30, 2010 at James.Brown at FCC dot gov or (717) 338-2621.  Final details of the forum will be announced approximately one week before the forum on this blog and in a public notice.

Potential Enhancements to the Spectrum Dashboard

Enhance license information:

  • Add spectrum leases, including the common name for lessees.
  • Modify how cellular licenses are depicted in the Spectrum Dashboard by cutting off Service Area Boundaries (SABs) at the Cellular Market Area (CMA) boundaries.
  • Update broadcast data to include more current information for full power TV stations and to add data for low power TV stations.

Add search capabilities:

  • Identify spectrum licensed on federally-recognized Tribal Lands.
  • Add additional types of licenses that can be searched and add additional search options.
  • Expand the range of spectrum bands where information is available (currently the Spectrum Dashboard encompasses 225 MHz – 3700 MHz).

Improve search results:

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Growing FCC.gov/data

by Gray Brooks, New Media Technology Specialist
April 20, 2010

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Since the launch of FCC.gov/data earlier this year, the FCC has stayed busy adding further information and increasing the number of available data sets. Though /data originally contained scores of data downloads, several dozen search engines, and over 50 XML feeds, we hold to the pledge that new data sets will be regularly added to FCC.gov/data, and the work to present the data in more functional and easily accessible formats will be ongoing. The FCC remains committed to become a more open and data-driven agency and indeed to become a model agency in government transparency.

The FCC shares the understanding that all public data should be easily browsable, strongly searchable, and available via bulk download and syndication, for free and in open formats. There is much progress to be made, but the role and the mission of FCC.gov/data will continue to be the online clearinghouse for the data of the Federal Communications Commission. In addition to the 'Featured Data Sets' that were recently added to the sidebar of Reboot.FCC.gov, we also wanted to begin highlighting some of the new additions to FCC.gov/data.

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FCC Reform of Procedures

by Austin Schlick, General Counsel
April 14, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:124:height=100,width=70]]I’m pleased to report that the FCC has begun two formal proceedings on ways to reform its procedures. 

The first Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes rule changes to make the Commission’s decision-making processes more open, transparent, fair, and effective.  The major proposals in the Ex Parte NPRM include:

  • Requiring the public filing of a summary of every oral ex parte presentation
  • Requiring the filing of a notice that summarizes all data and arguments presented and allowing cross-references to earlier filings where appropriate 
  • Establishing a preference for electronic filing of all notices of ex parte presentations 
  • Requiring faster electronic filing (within four hours) of notices of permitted ex parte presentations made during the “Sunshine Period,” which typically begins a week before a public Commission Meeting, for those items on the Meeting agenda
  • Starting the Sunshine Period prohibition on ex parte presentations at midnight after a Sunshine notice has issued to enhance predictability.

The Commission is asking for public comment on all these proposals.  In addition, the Commission is seeking comment on other topics, such as revisiting our current exceptions to the Sunshine Period prohibition on ex parte presentations, requiring disclosure of ownership or other information about organizations making filings at the Commission, sanctions and enforcement for violations of the ex parte rules, and how the ex parte rules should apply in the context of new media, such as this blog.

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Customer Feedback for the Spectrum Dashboard

by James Brown, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
April 14, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:120:height=100,width=70]]Last week, a customer feedback questionnaire was added to the Spectrum Dashboard.  The questionnaire should take a couple of minutes to complete and will help determine how the Spectrum Dashboard is being used, and how to shape future enhancements. 

After feedback from the questionnaire is collected and analyzed, a workshop will be held to discuss the feedback received, listen to public views on desired upgrades, and discuss ways to expand and improve the information and analyses contained in the Spectrum Dashboard.  The workshop will be announced in a Public Notice as well as through a blog.

To access the questionnaire, click on the “Give us your opinion” link located at the top right corner of any of the Spectrum Dashboard searches (Browse Spectrum Maps, Browse Using a Map, Search by Name, and Search by FCC License Categories).

We look forward to hearing from you.

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Is Your EEO Public File Report On Your Website?

April 8, 2010

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Broadcast stations with five or more full-time employees, and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), including cable and satellite TV companies, with six or more full-time employees, are required by FCC rules to maintain an EEO recruitment program. They must also create a report each year providing information about the program and place it in their public files. Requirements for EEO public file reports are outlined in the EEO rules for broadcast stations (Section 73.2080(c)(6)) and MVPDs (Section 76.1702(b)). Those stations and MVPDs that have websites are also required to post the current year's EEO public file report on their websites. Failure to create the report with all required information, to place it in the public file, or to post it to the station's or MVPD's website are violations of our rules and may result in enforcement action. The Commission has issued forfeitures for these violations in the past. All forfeitures released by the Commission for violations of EEO rules, as well as all EEO regulations and other EEO information, may be viewed on the EEO page on the FCC website. In addition, if you have questions about the FCC's EEO rules, please contact the Media Bureau's EEO Staff, at (202) 418-1450.

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Reliable Wireless Public Safety Communications Is Vital to Serving and Protecting our Communities

April 8, 2010

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Last October, my family and I enjoyed a day of community-related events in our hometown in Virginia. One of the biggest thrills for my two sons and me was climbing up into the fire truck for hook and ladder company number one. We were impressed with all of the bells and whistles in the driver and passenger compartments, particularly the radio system. The local sheriff's patrol car was equally impressive and certainly had brighter flashing lights.

We all recognize and appreciate the dedication and daily sacrifices that America's first responders and hospital emergency departments make on a daily basis to keep the communities they serve healthy and safe. As public safety moves to implement more robust and reliable communications using the 700 MHz band, we must all do our part to help support broadband services for police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and hospitals.

Beginning on June 12, 2010, the FCC will prohibit the use of wireless microphones and similar devices in the 700 MHz band so that public safety and commercial licensees will be better protected against potential interference to their operations by wireless mic users, such as for sporting events and various other forms of entertainment -- even karaoke.

The FCC is not saying that the public must cease using wireless mics, but rather that they must not use wireless mics that operate in the 700 MHz band -- and there are a number of options available to the public. Continuing to operate illegally after June 12th could cause harmful interference to public safety voice and data communications in the 700 MHz band and negatively affect the ability of first responders to serve and protect our communities.

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